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Winter is coming! Are your heating appliances protected with a Carbon Monoxide alarm?

28 September 2018

As much as we may like to deny it, it’s time to admit that winter is coming. As the days draw shorter and the temperature drops, it is time to cosy up! For many of us, that means heating your home through those chilly evenings and frosty mornings.

Whether your heating runs on gas or oil, this means your boiler is burning solid fuel. What many don’t realise is that when you do this, the fuel must be burnt cleanly and efficiently, otherwise it can produce Carbon Monoxide (CO). CO is a poisonous gas that you can’t see, smell or taste, which makes it more dangerous as you won’t know if your appliances are giving off any CO.

Let’s talk fires

Many of us have some type of fire in our living room, a large proportion of these being gas fires. As with a gas boiler, it is important to realise that this too can be a common source of CO. The other common type of fire in a living room is a log burner, which seems to be coming back into fashion. It’s important to know that these can also be a source of CO if the wood isn’t burnt efficiently. There are some differences between the risks with a gas and wood fire though. You open a door to a log burner which lets fumes out and it produces an aftermath of ashes, both of which also run an additional risk of giving off CO.

Wood burning stove How to protect yourself from Carbon Monoxide

If you can’t see it, smell it or taste it, how do you know when it’s there? The only way to tell, is to fit a CO alarm. A CO alarm will monitor the levels of CO in the room and give you incremental warnings as the level increases. It does this because although the level at which it will start to alert you may not be instantly dangerous, if this builds up over time, it can become more and more harmful. The alarm will go into full alarm state within a few minutes of CO being present at a dangerous level.

Another way of keeping an eye on the CO levels is to buy a CO alarm which provides you with reports. For instance, Aico CO alarms contain a report functionality called AudioLINK. AudioLINK allows you to simply tap ‘Download Alarm Data’ on the free AudioLINK app, hold you phone up to the alarm and press the test button on your CO alarm three times. A colour coded report is then provided telling you if there has been any CO in that room and at what levels.

Cover your flues

One thing that is often forgotten about is the risk from your flues. The left over gasses from appliances such as boilers leave your home through a flue. They are taken away like this to stop them entering your home, but what happens if you have if this starts to leak? This is why any rooms in which the flue runs out of your home from, would benefit from a CO alarm at breathing height.

What are the effects of Carbon Monoxide poisoning?

CO poisoning is often mistaken for flu, this is because the symptoms are very similar in smaller doses. Symptoms include: dizziness, headaches, breathlessness, nausea and as it worsens it could lead to collapse and you becoming unconscious. In worst cases, this can be fatal, this is why CO alarms are vital.